From Fog to Vision
There is one thing that the church has in common with the military. And that is, “It is all about the mission. That being said, these are two very different missions.
This mission of the military is to defend the constitution of the United States from enemies both foreign and domestic and to protect the vital interest of our nation.
The church’s mission is. as Jesus tells us in the “Great Commission”. to Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
But if I have learned anything from this past week, it is that there is at least one more thing that these two entities share and that is the fog of war.
In the military, when you are in the fog of war, you are in the heat of battle and bullets, grenades, missiles, and all kinds of things are coming at you and past you. And there is so much smoke or it is dark and you have no idea where it is coming from, and you are as likely to get hit from friendly fire as you are by the enemy.
Though it is not the military, as it has more to do with our governing body, I have felt much like I did back in Iraq, like we are in the fog of war with the testimony going on, on Capitol Hill. There is a battle, and we feel the tension and we don’t know what is going to happen next, nor where the next shot is going to come from, or what bombshell is going to fall.
So too, in our church, with the General Conference closing its special called session with the decision to go with the traditional plan, which does not merely hold to what is already in our book of discipline, but further restricts clergy and laity from being able to minister to and with persons of the LGBTQ communities,
It leaves many in our denomination wondering in a fog of confusion. Where can they turn to? Now, I know that for some of us in our denomination, it seems to be fairly cut and dry. And maybe it is. The book of discipline states what it states, the bible has passages that seem to be fairly clear in both the Old testament and New testament epistles with regards to homosexuality.
But the other side of that argument is that the bible is so very clear on other aspects of how we should behave, and how we should order ourselves, such as the role of women in the church. Or the role of men. At least in the UMC we do not practice these original teachings. Yet, if we followed that principle teaching, I don’t know that we would even be able to have church.
The fog of Church is a lot like the fog of war not so much in that we do not know whose taking aim at us, although that could be, but it is more in that there are so many distractions, so much happening all at once that we tend to lose focus of our overall mission. We know what the mission is, but we get so caught up in that fog that we lose sight of where the mission is taking us. We forget, or we wonder if the mission is worth it. It is hard to follow what you cannot always see.
There on that mountain top. As the vision of the Peter, James, and John came into view, they saw Jesus standing there with Moses and Elijah. Coming out of a fog of weariness, confusion, and misunderstanding, they thought they were seeing perfectly clear. At last they had reached the top of their religious experience or so they thought.
As it turns out, it was only for a brief moment, and they had read it all wrong. Instead of staying there on that mountain top, Jesus led them back down the mountain, back into the heat of the battle. And it was for a reason. The mission was not complete. There was more to do. So back down the mountain they went, once again through mountain fog. And as they got closer to the bottom, the more the fog began to lift. They could hear the commotion of a crowd growing louder and louder. A crowd was waiting on them.
Waiting to hear, waiting to be healed by the power of Jesus love, by the power that Jesus had shared with his disciples. Suddenly a man approaches them whose son is possessed with a spirit that seizes him and causes him to convulse. He had approached the other disciples who stayed below, but they could not help him. Once again, the disciples were all caught up in a fog of confusion, a fog of despair, a fog of blaming one another, a fog that left all questioning where do we go from here?
But Jesus reminds them in very stern terms, how faithless the supposed faithful were. They could not even or would not even; you can decide, touch a demon possessed boy. A boy who Jesus comes to and heals with the power of love. He heals him and returns him to his father, his family.
Maybe we all have forgotten it. Maybe we are too caught up in following the political fallout. Maybe we are too caught up in church politics. Maybe we struggle to know who we can trust and where we can turn. To be sure neither our Government nor our church leaders have made it easy over the course of the last week.
But I would submit to you, that in the grand scheme of things, all of this is nothing more than fog. For it is as contentious as it is confusing. All of it makes our hearts ache, and we are left wondering what on earth do we do now.
But Jesus cannot be more-clear than he is here once again at the bottom of a mountain. You are to keep preaching and teaching, and healing, and loving the loveless, the demon possessed, the outcast, the transient, and, yes, the LGBTQ. For they are as our book of Discipline says, Children of worth. That means they are valuable in Gods eyes, just like us. All of us are flawed in our own unique ways. And still we ask God to heal us. And still God comes to us.
Though we may not be perfect in every way, and though we may not always realize it, just like those disciples did not, when Jesus has turned our hearts form a heart of hate, of bigotry, of jealousy, or of selfishness, or anything that would cause us to render harm to others or to ourselves, to a heart that has compassion for the other, a heart that puts the needs of others before our own, without price. That is when we can know for sure that we have been healed and saved by the grace of God.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Folks, fellow Christians, Christians on the right, and Christian on the left, the world will not see it, because Christ’s peace is something that it will never see or understand. But we cannot let that fog distract us from our mission and the vision of Jesus Christ.
Our mission is to continue sharing the love of God, the good news of Jesus Christ to any and all who is willing to hear it and believe. And they will believe when they see that love being lived out in you and me.
Come let us share in this holy meal that binds us together in Christian love and casts a vision for us to follow in an otherwise foggy world.